The author of Go the Fuck to Sleep (2011) joins Zweibel to craft a (somewhat) more conventional tale, featuring a seventh-grader who gets unexpected help navigating middle school rapids.
In a plotline wrought from standard-issue tropes, from stepdad issues and feeling left behind by peers to poop references and vomiting all over a crush, the authors do get in some memorable twists. Assigned to write a letter to a historical figure, Franklin “Ike” Saturday pens a whiny missive to his namesake that gets mailed—and, unexpectedly, elicits a response from the great man himself. Purportedly, anyway: “old” Franklin’s spiteful reference to Jefferson as “a slave owner with a multitude of unaccounted-for progeny” and later boast of “lamps that represent the cutting edge in whale oil–fueled technology” sound strangely modern. In any case, the two Franklins find common ground in a regular, if irregularly capitalized, correspondence (“I’m very Grateful, and anything I can do to help you Screw Over Jefferson and the rest of those clowns, just let me know”). Meanwhile, against all odds, Ike hits it off with dazzling classmate Claire Wanzandae, particularly after the vomiting incident (caused by a boneheaded effort to impress by chugging beer) triggers an exchange of heartfelt letters of apology. Sending old Franklin modern documents that threaten to derail the American Revolution will definitely be harder to fix…stay tuned. The episode’s coyly blacked-out title is no more than a marketing ploy, as the correspondence is generally an amicable one.
A mildly enjoyable if open-ended romp. (Fantasy. 10-13)